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Thursday, July 27, 2006


Nationals defeat Giants for second time, Today a day game, Sweep?

Nationals win their 5th straight game Wednesday in a hard fought low scoring game. Nationals jump to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third and kept that lead until the seventh when Mike Stanton was credited with a blown save after giving up a single to Randy Winn which scored Todd Greene and Linden to give the Giants 3 total runs (a run was scored in the top of the fourth off of a double by Durham). The score was 3-2 until the bottom of the ninth inning, when Fick came in to lead off (despite the scoreboard mistakes, he was not pinch hitting for Rivera, but had come into the game in the last inning as catcher, this comment will be easier to see after I get the pictures uploaded hopefully tonight). Benetiz came in for the Giants to shut out the Nationals. First batter he walked (Fick), second he struck out (Soriano). Fick on first, 1 out. Lopez singled and Fick moved to second (if I recall correctly, the ball was deflected by a diving player, and the other infielder was not in position to stop the ball). Zimmerman, and his heroics of this past season stepped up to the plate as the fourth batter of the inning. 1 out, Fick on second, Lopez on first. Zimmerman singles, Fick scores and Lopez moves to second base. Whatever happens now, the Nationals are in it, tie-game - 3-3. Benetiz goes 3-2 to Johnson before walking him. Johnson on First, Zimmerman on second, Lopez on third, bases loaded. Kearns up, in a slightly similar position in the 7th (bases loaded, Johnson IBB, 2 out, instead of 1), Kearns popped up for the third out. This occasion? So far in this game, Kearns is 1 for 4 and had left 5 runners on base. Kearns hits the ball to shallow left field, the ball is caught, Lopez tags up and runs home, the throw to the plate, and Lopez is safe at home. Game over, Nationals win 4-3 and win their fifth game in a row.

Pedro Astacio ended up being charged with 2 earned runs and 3 overall runs for his 6.1 innings of work. 1 of those earned runs came in the fourth inning, and the other earned run crossed the plate while Stanton was on the mound. Once again, though, Astacio would not get a W or L. Saul Rivera, the pitcher of record win Lopez crossed the plate, earned his first major league win.

ESPN box score

Some Notes from the Diamond Club seating:
1) On Tuesday I sat in 113 on the first base side of the field. 7 rows back, staring straight at the batter while he is in the batters box. No net. One or two balls flew at my seat, but not while I was there (I could see them from up in the Diamond Club food area behind the right field fence, overlooking the Nationals bullpen). Interesting to be that close and in such a precarious position. Much better seats, though, than the ones I had on Wednesday when I sat in 118 on the third base side of the field (10 rows back). 118 is behind the net, and not enough over to be behind home-plate. 113, despite being further over from home-plate, was a much better seating area than 118, both because of the lack of net (quite distracting) and the angle of the seat (though looking over to the scoreboard in the outfield was a little hard on the neck).

2) The food is free up in the food area behind the Nationals bullpen, and in the seating area (except for certain things like beer/wine). Be aware of this fact, don’t stop and buy a hot dog on the way down to your seat. On the other hand, because of one thing or another (somewhat unexplained), you might have to wait until the third inning to get someone to come by and ask if you want anything (even if you sit there, mostly by yourself, from about 6:30/45 on; that was in 118 (where there was apparently only one server; 113 was much better served and had more servers - oh, and I saw the fellow running around in 118, despite my annoyance at not being asked if I wanted anything until the third inning, I still think he needs a raise - he was constantly in motion getting orders and bringing things to the seats, just not specifically to me). If you have the opportunity and choice, I’d say take the 113 seats, you stare into the batters box, and have a great view of the batter (and no net).

3) Plan to either: a) not get home for 2 to 4 hours after the game, or b) leave early. Why? Well, you, the Diamond Club patron, are way down next to the plate, with many many rows behind you in your area alone (which, of course, was the point of having those seats - being close to the field). Add in the 300 level seats, and you will, not might, but will end up standing for about ten to 15 minutes after the game is over (all activity on field over, fireworks, patting on back, etc., over) waiting for people to move forward. If you parked in the parking lot, getting out will take about 1-3 hours (90% of the 2-4 hour commute time home will be attempting to leave the stadium area). There is a trick to get out of the jammed parking area, the non-moving - except when someone decides to leave your lane and race to another lane parking area. Those that know it, apparently three people judging by the traffic, will not thank me for mentioning it now, so I’ll leave it a mystery. A not particularly well hidden mystery, but still apparently a mystery. Of course the trick depends on where you live. If you live where I live, the trick probably doesn’t really cut down on the number of hours in the car. What it does do, though, is put you in a position to be constantly in motion going at or slightly above the speed limit all the way from the stadium to home (just add - highway speed limit).

Today’s day game will feature the services of RHP Matt Cain (7-6, 4.67) and RHP Livan Hernandez (7-8, 5.80). Cain has pitched in 19 game this year (and 26 overall), and in those 106 (152.1 career) innings, has given up 11 home-runs (15 career) 52 walks (71 career), and has an era of 4.67 (3.96 career). He has also struck out 90 batters (120 career) and has limited batters to a batting average of .219 (.200 career).

Vidro wants Soriano to stay (“Vidro said recently that if left fielder Alfonso Soriano is traded before the July 31 deadline, it would be a devastating blow to the franchise”; oh, and in that same article: “The Nationals are 7-3 when Robert Fick starts behind the plate”). Soriano not yet traded (and my quick glance around the internet notes no new news (other than a Boswell column about losing particular players which I will get around to reading, hopefully)).

Oh wait, I see something for all those “trade Soriano now for prospects, re-sign him in the off-season” people: Soriano says he won't re-sign with Nationals if they trade him . A headline in the Baltimore Sun (a newspaper with more inside dirt on the Nationals, on this particular issue, than apparently any Washington DC area paper).

"To be honest, it's tough to say I'd come back if they trade me because you know if they trade me I'm going to think that I cannot be good for this team, because they traded me, because they [do] not need me anymore," Soriano said.

But Soriano said he likely would never put on a Nationals uniform again if traded.

"I think so. It depends, but that's what I feel now," said Soriano. "It depends on the situation. I don't want to say that I won't sign with this team, but that is going to be very tough."

Headline somewhat stronger than Soriano’s words.

Oh, and as I noticed yesterday, and then just noticed again the Sun article - Sal Fasano now a Yankee.

Oooh diamond club seats - fancy! Actually, I appreciate the report. A colleague is taking me to the first Cardinals game (Labor Day) on his company's diamond club seats (treat!). Although, I think they're in section 118, so kinda bummed to hear it's not a great view. You know what a shutterbug I am!
A trick to take pictures through a net (if you don't already know):
You want to take a picture of the batter (or runner, or whatever that is viewable through the net). If you point, focus on the batter, and take a picture, the camera is likely to focus on the net (even if the little focus box is around the batter, it is probably focused on the net around the batter, not the batter). So what do you do?
1) Focus on something outside the net, preferably on the field (third baseman is not blocked by the net).
2) Lock in your focus (on my camera, that means that the box is now green).
3) Move your camera back to the net area and take a picture of the batter. (probably better to focus on something the same distance as the batter and same lighting conditions of the batter; but focusing on the third baseman will give you good results).

Hopefully these notes are helpful. I'll put these notes in a new blog entry, don't want to a day to go by without an entry.
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